1) Tracking International Shipments: (USPS, FedEx, UPS)- the Different Services
Thanks to the power of the internet, people today can communicate and facilitate business across the globe. Any item that doesn't exist in your region can be ordered to your doorstep in a few clicks. While companies keep striving to reduce the amount of time spent on delivering the actual product, it can also be challenging to provide tracking services for their customers.
Every customer feels anxious about the item(s) they order online and, rightfully so, feels compelled to know where their product has reached in real-time. This is where carriers come into the picture. The companies that sell these products are not the ones who ship them; the carriers are.
For most eCommerce stores, partnering with one or multiple carriers is necessary. One of these carriers' primary services to eCommerce brands (other than shipping) is tracking where their orders are.
Of course, every company has a different way of going about this and today, we'll look at three such carriers, USPS, FedEx and UPS, and go over how they provide tracking services for their customers.
2) What is international shipping, and why do people use it?
We know shipping is the term used for transporting goods from one destination to another. Understanding international shipping is no rocket science either.
It refers to goods transported from one country to another, separated by road or water bodies. Interestingly enough, water is the primary medium for the majority of all global trades.
So, why are so many people into shipping overseas? There can be multiple reasons, but primarily, shipping to another country is done due to a lack of availability of the specified product or resource in that area.
The best example (one which many of us are aware of) is oil. Middle eastern countries are the biggest exporters of oil. For countries where oil cannot be found naturally in abundance or at all, the middle eastern countries will use international shipping to transport the required amount of oil.
3) What are the different types of services offered by USPS, FedEx, and UPS for tracking international shipments
Now that we've gotten a good grasp of what international shipping is, let's look at how three different companies provide tracking services for their customers. We'll describe how each carrier provides different tools and services for tracking international shipments.
3.1) Tracking Services of USPS
USPS offers different kinds of tracking services depending on the mail class of the order. For shipments that come under the Global Express Guaranteed and Priority Mail Express International, they have a track and confirm tool which gives daily updates about the whereabouts of your order.
Shipments that come under the Priority Mail International can also be tracked for the most part with a small catch. If you ship using the Priority Mail International Flat‑Rate Envelopes or Small Flat‑Rate Boxes service for specific destinations, receiving tracking information is optional.
Lastly, USPS offers free tracking services for First-Class Package International Service shipments at specific destinations.
3.2) Tracking Services of FedEx
Tracking an international package at FedEx is not different from tracking a domestic one. FedEx allows consumers to track their shipments within 90 days from shipping.
It also lets you track your package in three ways; tracking number, reference number and TCN (Transportation Control Number- used for government orders). You can head over to the FedEx online tracking tool and enter any of the details mentioned above to receive your current delivery status.
Overall, FedEx's tracking system is easy-to-use and straightforward for anyone who isn't too familiar with using tracking tools. It can even be used on different devices such as mobile phones, desktops, etc.
3.3) Tracking Services of UPS
UPS has two different methods through which customers can track their shipped products. The first method is akin to the tracking service of FedEx in the sense that only your order's tracking number is needed. You can head over to their online tracking tool, enter your tracking number, hit 'submit', and you're good to go.
The second way of doing things is to visit the UPS store that packed and sent your order. You can then ask them to assist you in tracking your international order.
4) What are the benefits and drawbacks of each service?
Now that we've gone over the different services of USPS, FedEx and UPS, it's time to look at the different pros and cons of each service of all carriers.
4.1) Pros and cons of tracking services of USPS
- The USPS tracking tool is easy to use since customers must type in their tracking number and click 'track'.
- The tool webpage is user-friendly as it contains important FAQs such as 'where can I find my tracking number'?
- A tracking service is not offered for First‑Class International Letters.
- USPS provides tracking only in select destinations.
4.2) Pros and cons of tracking services of FedEx
- Allows customers to track down their orders in multiple ways, such as providing the tracking or reference number.
- FedEx lets users track using different tools on a single website.
- The tracking tool may not give the latest updates at times.
4.3) Pros and cons of tracking services of UPS
- Easy-to-use tracking tool, which only requires the tracking number.
- If the online tracking tool is down, customers can still visit the UPS store where they dropped off their product to track international shipments.
- Customers cannot track their products online without the tracking number.
5) How to track an international shipment using each service?
If you've looked at the different tracking services of all three carriers and decided which one to use, here are some steps to help you understand how tracking international shipments is made on each platform.
5.1) How to track an international shipment using USPS?
1) Visit the USPS online tracking tool.
2) Enter your 35-digit tracking number.
3) Click on track.
5.2) How to track an international shipment using FedEx?
1) Visit the FedEx online tracking tool.
2) Choose the way by which you want to track your order.
3) Enter the details requested by the tracker, such as the tracking or reference number.
4) Click track.
5.3) How to track an international shipment using UPS?
1) Visit the online UPS tracking tool page.
2) Enter your tracking number.
3) Click track.
If the online tracking tool does not work, you can visit the local UPS store where you dropped your product.
6) How do you determine which service is best for your needs?
While all three companies provide efficient and easy-to-use trackers, you can only decide to go with one as a customer. Depending on your need, you may find that one carrier is better suited than others.
USPS and UPS can be the best choice if you're making an international shipment during a festive season since the FedEx tracking tool can get clogged up with the massive amounts of orders placed and not function properly.
With USPS, you can receive daily tracking updates on your order using the Priority Mail Express International service. On the other hand, UPS provides an offline shipment tracking service that you can use if their online tool does not work.
You may still choose USPS or UPS over FedEx for a more general delivery outside of any significant festive season since FedEx tends to have higher price rates than the former two. If you're looking to ship small products overseas, USPS is the best option to save money, whereas UPS is more cost-effective for orders with larger products.
7) Tips for a smooth international shipping experience
Now that we've taken a good look at all three carriers and their tracking services, here are a couple of shipping tips to help you have a smooth experience shipping internationally.
7.1) Use the best packaging
You need to consider that your item will travel a reasonable distance, and covering it up in the best way is vital. For fragile items, you can use extra layers of bubble wrap but ensure not to add a lot of product weight and increase your shipping cost.
7.2) Learn about customs
One of the most (if not the most) important aspects of international shipping is being educated about the customs of the region where you're shipping. Ensure to fill out the required forms to avoid any bottlenecks at the last second.
Also, remember to check the custom fee for the region you're shipping to. The custom fee may vary depending on how valuable the item you're shipping is.
7.3) Learn about restrictions
Customs aren't the only thing that you need to learn about. Certain regions have stricter restrictions than others on what can enter their area. Ensure to stay within those regulations and contact your carrier for any doubts or queries.
These were some of the different tracking services that USPS, FedEx and UPS provide. These courier services allow you to track your shipments in real-time, but they are pretty accurate. In short, such courier tracking services have made international shipping seamless with the help of advanced technology.